The Way You Book Your Cruise May Change
Over the years, savvy cruisers have learned the tricks of the trade when it comes to booking cruises. They understand that securing the perfect cruise is not as straightforward as you might think. When it comes to book your cruise, there are so many elements to consider, including:
- choosing the right cruise line
- the size of the ship
- the destination
- time of year
- booking at precisely the right time
- remaining vigilant for price changes
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It is no longer just a case of browsing the web to secure the best deal, even though it is tempting the think this may work. With our seven simple tips and tricks, you might be able to discover special pricing, rack up significant OBCs, cabin or stateroom upgrades and maybe enjoy freebies that others may not be aware of.
1 – Don’t Assume Booking Direct with the Cruise Line is BesT
You would think that going direct and book your cruise through the cruise line would automatically bag you the best deal. This is not very often the case!
Cruise lines do have direct sales teams but they rely upon thousands of Cruise Travel Agents to sell the bulk of their cruises. To ensure that the cruise lines themselves do not undercut the agents they normally sell cruises at the full or regular selling price with no discounts, savings or other perks.
The cruise line direct sales teams are well organised and have a great affinity for their products but agents can offer so much more. Cruise travel agents can offer substantial savings, perks and other goodies resulting in incredible deals for the consumer.
2 – Pay more for a lower total price
It sounds a bit odd, but sometimes it is better to pay a little bit more on the base cruise fare as the upgraded facilities and amenities included can make a huge impact on the total cost of your cruise.
If you’re working with a limited budget and plan to keep your onboard spending to an absolute minimum, then choosing a cruise with the lowest headline prices maybe your best option.
Always watch out for the hidden extras like gratuities, speciality restaurants, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages as they can soon mount up.
However, if you can afford to pay a bit more when you book your cruise, the returns you receive may exceed the price difference in the fares. It is true that in the cruising industry the best deal isn’t always the one with the lowest fare.
Good examples of this are All Inclusive Cruises where everything is included for an upfront price. At the end of your cruise, there is nothing else to pay for as almost everything including drinks speciality restaurants, gratuities etc is included.
The Benefits of All-Inclusive Cruises Revealed
3 – Watch Out For Price Drops
By keeping your eyes open and checking cruise line promotions, you can sometimes find huge price drops on certain cruises. One way to do this is to sign up for cruise line newsletters and updates which will inform you about their latest deals and incentives to get you to book our cruise. Social media is another great place you should monitor as cruise agents quite often use this method to promote specific voyages where there are hidden deals.
If you see a deal that’s better than the one you already have, the first call should be to your travel agent and ask for a price match. Most agents who value your business will go out of their way to find a solution by either matching the price or offering extras like onboard credits, cabin upgrades or drinks packages or pre-paid gratuities. You will find that some travel agents are proactive and have your interests at heart and these will tell you about price reductions. Others will just hope you don’t find out! It is in your best interests to monitor for prices changes as you’re the person who has the most to gain.
4 – Refer a friend (or get referred)
Recommend-a-Friend programs are great marketing programs to generate new business for health clubs, hair salons and many other services and it is the same for cruises. Most cruise lines offer referral incentives if you recommend someone to the cruise line who has never sailed with them before.
First-time cruisers should always check if their cruise line or travel agency offers a referral programme. Oftentimes, both you and the new guest will both receive an onboard credit or discount on their first cruise. It’s a win-win situation. If you are not sure your cruise line offers a referral programme then check with your cruise travel agent.
If you spot an advert for a cruise and the travel agent tells you to call for pricing, this is a sign that there may be a great deal available. Don’t be fooled into thinking the ship is sold out or this is some kind of marketing trick.
Because some travel agents have direct relationships with cruise lines, they quite often receive what are known as “covert offers” that they’re only allowed to promote to a closed audience.
What this normally means is that the cruise line doesn’t want to publicly advertise a lower price, but they have inventory they are keen to fill. This means that there are potentially some amazing deals available if you are flexible, but to take advantage of the savings you have to call to discuss your options.
The better Cruise Travel Agents are also privy to promotions before they are released and get to know about offers and potential savings. Talking to your travel agent on the phone might seem a bit old fashioned these days, but if you want to book the best deal for your cruise, it’s essential.
6 – Book onboard
Booking a cruise while you’re already on a cruise might seem like a strange idea, but it’s a great way to be rewarded with extra bonuses and discounts.
Typically you can earn an onboard credit for use on the cruise you book plus oftentimes enjoy reduced deposits. Some cruise lines offer schemes whereby you can buy a Future Cruise Credit (FCD) on board for a nominal sum which entitles you to a 5% discount on any future cruise with that cruise line.
Seabourn have a scheme whereby you buy a Future Cruise deposit which you can use against any future cruise. The great thing is that if you don’t use the FCD within 4 years, this is fully refundable.
Once you have booked onboard, nominate your preferred travel agent and transfer the booking to them.
Good travel agents can offer you even more perks on top of what you negotiated on the ship including better pricing, more onboard credits (OBCs), flowers in your stateroom etc. This trick is a no-brainer if you know you want to cruise with the same cruise line again.
7 – Booking Online Isn’t Always a Good Idea
Booking your cruise Online may seem like the best way forward but it is not always the best way to secure the best value for your cruise.
Selling cruises online is all about reducing the cruise lines’ cost of selling their cruises. It is a mechanical process that simply presents you with basic information and a price.
What you miss out on is understanding the nuances of the cruise you are booking, where the best cabins or staterooms are located plus any deals that might be just around the corner. Once you click the ‘Buy Now’ button, you are booked.
From experience, we have found that working with a good cruise travel agent almost inevitably means you end up with a better deal than booking online. That’s not to say there isn’t a place for booking your cruise online, but in our opinion, it is not always the best way.
Booking your Cruise Online is not always a good idea
Booking Hacks – Some Additional Thoughts
Hopefully, these Cruise Booking hacks with help you decide on the best way to book your next cruise and ensure you get the cruise vacation you were expecting. Always keep your wits about you and don’t accept the first offer or price you see. Normally there are lots of extras you can take advantage of by being smart.
If you are really keen to understand more about cruising then we recommend that you invest in a copy of the Berlitz Cruise Guide. It is packed full of useful cruise-related information. You can read our review here.
Have you any Cruise Booking Hacks that you think we missed? if so let us know and we can add them to our list. Have fun…..